SpIRE Spirituality Institute

Media Coverage of the Launch of SpIRE

Links covering the launch of SpIRE

SpIRE – New Irish institute of spirituality announced

SpIRE Launch

L-R: Prof Michael Howlett (SpIRE and WIT), Dr Michael O’Sullivan, SJ (Executive-Director of SpIRE), Prof Bernadette Flanagan, PBVM (Chair of SpIRE), Dr Jim Finley (speaker), Prof Jim Malone (SpIRE and TCD), and Dr Paul Clogher (WIT). Photo: Suzanne Ryder, RSM.

“We don’t want to see spirituality studies dying in Ireland” Dr Michael O’Sullivan said as he announced the setting up of a new spirituality institute which will be formally launched later in the year. “We are trying to keep spirituality studies going in Ireland”, he explained and referred to the warning some years back that Ireland not only needed to be recapitalised financially but also spiritually.

SpIRE – the Spirituality Institute for Research and Education – was announced in Milltown last week and represents something new and something old in the field of Irish spirituality studies.

Two of the driving forces behind the new institute are very well known within academic circles.

Dr Michael O’Sullivan SJ and Dr Bernadette Flanagan PBVM have been prominent in the school of spirituality in All Hallows College in Dublin and also lectured in Milltown Institute of Theology and Spirituality.

SpIRE has already negotiated to have an MA in Spiritualty on offer to students under the auspices of Waterford Institute of Technology by Autumn 2016.

The hope is that in time, doctoral research will also become accredited too. A further partnership is currently under discussion with a third level college in the US

In addition to the academic course and research, SpIRE will also be involved in hosting/partnering a number of conferences, public lectures and summer schools.

Last week, Dr O’Sullivan gave the keynote opening address at the conference on Spirituality and Health organised with the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin.
Report by Sarah MacDonald, in CatholicIreland.Net – 2 July 2015

From The Jesuit Provinces of Europe

Ireland: New ‘Spirituality Institute for Research and Education’ launched

Michael O’Sullivan SJ announced the establishment of a new Spirituality Institute for Research and Education at a public event on 22 June in Milltown Park, a launch timed to coincide with the centenary of the birth of Thomas Merton. The aim of the Spirituality Institute is to raise awareness of spirituality as an applied academic discipline. Fr. O’Sullivan explained, “We are trying to keep spirituality studies going in Ireland”, and referred to the warning some years back that Ireland not only needed to be recapitalised financially but also spiritually. Fr. O’Sullivan has founded Institute along with Dr Bernadette Flanagan PBVM, his colleague in the school of spirituality in All Hallows College. Both were previously on the staff of Milltown Institute. The Institute has already negotiated to have an MA in Spirituality on offer to students under the auspices of Waterford Institute of Technology by Autumn 2016, and hopes that in time doctoral research will become accredited too.

Digital News Service SJ – Vol. XIX, No. 15 | September 22, 2015

From Irish Jesuit News, September 2, 2015

New ‘Spirituality Institute for Research and Education’ launched

Michael O’Sullivan SJ announced the establishment of a new Spirituality Institute for Research and Education (SpIRE) at a public event on 22 June in Milltown Park, a launch timed to coincide with the centenary of the birth of Thomas Merton. The aim of SpIRE is to raise awareness of spirituality as an applied academic discipline. Michael explained “we are trying to keep spirituality studies going in Ireland”, and referred to the warning some years back that Ireland not only needed to be recapitalised financially but also spiritually. Michael has founded SpIRE along with Dr Bernadette Flanagan PBVM, his colleague in the school of spirituality in All Hallows College. Both were previously on the staff of Milltown Institute.

SpIRE has already negotiated to have an MA in Spirituality on offer to students under the auspices of Waterford Institute of Technology by Autumn 2016, and hopes that in time doctoral research will become accredited too. In addition to the academic course and research, the institute will also be involved in organising a number of conferences, public lectures and summer schools, such as the recent one in spirituality which took place between 17-21 August at Milltown Park. SpIRE will also host a series of public lectures this Autumn at the Arrupe Room, Milltown Park. On Saturday 5 September Prof Mark Burrows from Germany, a past-President of the international Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, will speak on the topic “The Ripening: Imagining a truer God (and self) with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke”; while on Tuesday 6 October Dr Riaan van der Merwe from South Africa will give an interactive presentation “A Multimedia Engagement with the Spirituality of Vulnerable Embodiment of Henri Nouwen”.

Michael has also been busy over the summer months promoting the study of spirituality. He was one of the keynote speakers at the first international Spirituality in Healthcare Conference at Trinity College Dublin on 25 June, giving the opening address entitled ‘Holistic Health and Spiritual Self-Presence’. On 5 July he preached at the Sunday liturgy in Christ Church Cathedral, at the invitation of the Dean, Very Rev. Dermot Dunne. Dermot did the MA in Applied Christian Spirituality, of which Michael is the Director, at All Hallows College, and he described the experience as “life-transforming” to the congregation. The Residential Priest-Vicar at the Cathedral, Rev. Garth Bunting, did the MA with Michael when he directed, lectured, and supervised research in the programme at Milltown Institute. Meanwhile a recent article written by Michael ‘Reading John 7:53–8:11 as a narrative against male violence against women’, was published by HTS Theological Studies – a leading online journal in South Africa, and has attracted considerable interest there.

In October Michael will address the Healthcare Chaplains on the topic ‘Spiritual but not religious’, while in November he will give a public lecture ‘Spiritual Experience in Childhood as Foundational in a Life’ at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin. He will also travel to Atlanta at that time where he will be part of an international panel about researching spirituality and where he will be exercising international leadership roles to do with the study of spirituality as a result of his membership of the editorial board of Spiritus, the leading international journal about the study of Christian spirituality, and of the international relations committee, and the promotions committee, of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.

Mercy supports new Spirituality Momentum – October 2 2015

A New SpIRE has Emerged

Spirituality is the pulse of life and needs to be nourished. Two important figures enabling this in Ireland today are Dr Michael O’Sullivan SJ and Dr Bernadette Flanagan PVBM. They are the founding members of SpIRE, an Institute for Research and Education in the field of spirituality. The SpIRE initiative was launched in Milltown Park, Dublin this summer and includes much Mercy involvement. Sarah Mac Donald is a reporter from The Tablet and her review of the evening can be seen by clicking here.

Central to spirituality studies is an MA programme in Applied Christian Spirituality. Several past graduates are seen in the photographs below:

The MA programme in Applied Christian Spirituality has been suspended because of the closure of All Hallows College, where it had been offered. Now, plans for its return are in place, on the site of Milltown Park, in 2016. It will be under the auspices of Waterford Institute of Technology, a university level college. As part of Mercy support for the new venture, Scholasticah Nganda rsm and Marie Louise White rsm, representing our Congregational Leadership Team, were present at the opening of SpIRE.

The guest speaker was Dr James Finley, author of The Palace of Nowhere. He spoke of his time as a novice under the care of Thomas Merton. At first, Jim was so much in awe of the great man that he was tongue-tied. However, Merton invited him to share on his practical experience in the monastery where Jim’s job was to care for the pigs. Merton showed so much interest in the individual piglets that Jim came to be at his ease, learning a great deal from a master of contemplative life.

During the talk, Jim shared two memorable images. He asked us to imagine that one morning we awaken to find we have been left a mansion. The only difficulty is that no key comes with the legacy. Instead, we find ourselves living in an outhouse beside the mansion. When visitors come to call, we can only show them the house from outside. The second image was of actually living in the mansion but thinking and living as though we are living in an outhouse. Both of these potent images caused many questions to arise in relation to our relationship with God.

Do we access this wondrous relationship to which we are entitled? Are we aware of the gifts we receive in every moment of our lives? Questions like these are some of the food that is shared in abundance through the MA programme and all of the events organised through SpIRE.

Report by Suzanne Ryder rsm, Western Province of the Mercy sisters